An experienced PE-backed CEO and established company director, Eric Dunmore was approached to head up the Payroll Software Services Group (PSSG) by Tenzing and the company made its first investments in December 2019. His experience building, running, buying and selling companies marked him as the right person for the job, with Eric intrigued by the challenge of bringing together three different companies – Cintra, Trace Payroll Services and UnaTerra – under a unified brand. That and his belief in the “stickiness” of the offering drives his leadership of this exciting new business.
With the UK and international payroll markets growing at respective rates of around 4% and 15% annually, the opportunity was clear. “Payroll is a fantastic product, because it’s got very natural add ons – HR, recruitment, onboarding, human capital management – so it’s a natural core service to add product extensions to,” Eric explains. “More and more companies are outsourcing functionality from their head office, therefore, our belief is the outsourcing world will grow.”
There’s a gap in the UK market, he adds, where big companies dominate the landscape, with a lot of “mama and papa” businesses at the lower end – but little in the middle.
“So the idea was to put together three independent businesses to create a sizeable platform to add other businesses to, and build the business in line with our vision in the next three to four years.”
Integrating three business divisions – domestic, international and software – with complementary service offerings and client bases to create a global payroll and HR services business is something both Eric and Tenzing have high conviction in.
The three businesses were made even more attractive because the acquisition of Cintra gave the group the ability to sell payroll and HR software as well as outsourced services.
Eric has a long history with the Tenzing team, and fully trusted in the three-way investment and subsequent amalgamation.
Aligned with Tenzing’s belief in the market opportunity, Eric finds the space genuinely interesting: “There’s a lot you can do with a subject with which most people glaze over about. Payroll is about paying people what they are due, on time with the correct taxes and deductions made. Doing that better, and more efficiently, either through software or outsourcing – and helping companies through what many of them see as a minefield – is a rewarding experience. It’s a great business to be in.”
Collectively, Cintra, Trace and UnaTerra required further expertise to shape their products, services and technology development strategies to reach their growth potential. The idea of a trade sale was dismissed down to the confidence in the power of the unified group. “Private equity was seen as the natural home for this platform,” states Eric.
Building the right senior team to drive the newly-formed PSSG forward was no mean feat, but Tenzing helped get the job done – appointing a CTO, UK COO, international COO and CFO. Eric counts this, along with launching a cloud-based customer offering and generally coping with the challenges of the pandemic, as the business’s biggest investment milestones to date.
“They’re really amazing achievements. To achieve that much despite, or because of, depending on how you look at it, the current environment is something we’re delighted with,” he says.
The Sherpa programme has proven particularly beneficial, as has marketing support from Tenzing.
“They’ve been very supportive in difficult times,” Eric acknowledges. “We couldn’t really assess how our customers were going to react to the situation, because it was so fast moving for them. So Tenzing were very happy for us to follow a path of listening to our customers – making sure our service levels didn’t fall and driving through the change that we could.”
Next on the horizon is sales growth, acquisitions (PSSG acquired Online Payrolls in June 2021), further refining the product offering, and, all being well, an office move.
“We are aiming to create a one stop shop for business professional services payroll and critical outsource business functions. By creating a platform, which is software, plus systems, plus service, plus sales, and using technology to service all types of business, means PSSG has a hugely exciting future ahead of it,” tips Eric.
“We have a great opportunity here which I intend to grab with both hands, and with my team take it forward.”